Poor Miss Finch
Events at the Bedside
I AM, if you will be so good as to remember, constitutionally French--and, therefore,
constitutionally averse to distressing myself, if I can possibly help it. For this reason, I
really cannot summon courage to describe what passed between my blind Lucilla and me
when I returned to our pretty sitting-room. She made me cry at the time; and she would
make me (and perhaps you) cry again now, if I wrote the little melancholy story of what
this tender young creature suffered when I told her my miserable news. I won't write it; I
am dead against tears. They affect the nose; and my nose is my best feature. Let us use
our eyes, my fair friends, to conquer, not to cry.
Be it enough to say, that when I went back to Browndown, Lucilla went with me.
I now observed her, for the first time, to be jealous of the eyes of us happy people who
could see. The instant she entered, she insisted on being near enough to the bed, to hear
us, or to touch us, as we waited on the injured man. This was at once followed by her
taking the place occupied by Mrs. Gootheridge at the bed-head, and herself bathing
Oscar's face and forehead. She was even jealous of me, when she discovered that I was
moistening the bandages on the wound. I irritated her into boldly kissing the poor
insensible face in our presence! The landlady of the Cross Hands was one of my sort: she
took cheerful views of things. "Sweet on him--eh, ma'am?" she whispered in my ear; "we
shall have a wedding in Dimchurch." In presence of these kissings and whisperings, Mrs.
Gootheridge's brother, as the only man present, began to look very uncomfortable. This
worthy creature belonged to that large and respectable order of Englishmen, who don't
know what to do with their hands, or how to get out of a room. I took pity on him--he
was, I assure you, a fine man. "Smoke your pipe, sir, in the garden," I said. "We will call
to you from the window, if we want you up here." Mrs. Gootheridge's brother cast on me
one look of unutterable gratitude--and escaped, as if he had been let out of a trap.
At last, the doctor came.
His first words were an indescribable relief to us. The skull of our poor Oscar was not
injured. There was concussion of the brain, and there was a scalp-wound--inflicted
evidently with a blunt instrument. As to the wound, I had done all that was necessary in
the doctor's absence. As to the injury to the brain, time and care would put everything
right again. "Make your minds easy, ladies," said this angel of a man. "There is no reason
for feeling the slightest alarm about him."
He came to his senses--that is to say, he opened his eyes and looked vacantly about him--
between four and five hours after the time when we had found him on the floor of the
His mind, poor fellow, was still all astray. He recognized nobody. He imitated the action
of writing with his finger; and said very earnestly, over and over again, "Go home, Jicks;
go home, go home!" fancying himself (as I suppose), lying helpless on the floor, and
sending the child back to us to give the alarm. Later in the night he fell asleep. All
through the next day, he still wandered in his mind when he spoke. It was not till the day
after, that he began feebly to recover his reason. The first person he recognized was
Lucilla. She was engaged at the moment in brushing his beautiful chestnut hair. To her
unutterable joy, he patted her hand, and murmured her name.